CHICAGO – There’s little doubt that Jimmy Butler is the best player on the Chicago Bulls, and likely the best player to play for the Bulls since the great one himself, Michael Jordan laced up his sneakers for the Bulls nearly two decades ago.
It’s also well known around the city of Chicago that Jimmy Butler is one of the best players in the NBA, and now, Jimmy Butler is receiving some well deserved kudos, being named to the starting roster for the Eastern Conference all-star’s in next month’s NBA All-Star Game. Fate or Coincidence that Butler’s first nod as a starter in the NBA All-Star Game will come in a game originally scheduled in Charlotte where Michael Jordan now resides as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets? The All-Star Game has since been relocated to New Orleans due to political conflicts.
More than likely coincidence, because the Bulls all-star forward has earned every bit of this honor bestowed upon him on Thursday evening. Calling it fate would be taking away from the Most Valuable Player Award-caliber season that Butler is currently having thus far.
Butler is the cornerstone of the Bulls franchise, and that has never been more evident than this season. Butler was tabbed as the Bulls new primary scorer, and the backbone of the franchise when the Bulls moved on from the often embattled, but one time great, point guard Derrick Rose this past summer.
Butler has not disappointed thus far, leading the Bulls in scoring in 30 of the 43 games played so far this season. Keep in mind that Butler missed two of those 43 games, and battled the flu through limited minutes in another of those games. So realistically, when at full strength and in the lineup, Butler has led the Bulls in scoring in 30 of 40 games this season, that’s 90 percent of the games that he has played.
Only Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder has played more of a centered role to a teams success this year.
Through 41 games this season, Butler is averaging 24.8 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Sitting at the halfway point of the season with basically 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists per contest is excellent, even in today’s point-happy NBA, where defense seems to have taken a back seat to a league of elite scorers and jump-shooters.
Speaking of defense, Butler is averaging a pair of steals per game, and is still widely considered one of the best defenders and two-way players in the NBA. Butler is shooting an efficient 45 percent from the field, 35 percent from beyond the three-point line, and a stellar 87 percent from the charity stripe, which he spends a considerable amount of time at. Butler averages 10 free throws per contest.
Further evidence that Butler is the motor to the Bulls success, he boasts a player efficiency of 26, 11 points higher than the league average, and has a wins share of nearly eight on the campaign.
Since being handed the reigns this season, Butler’s points per game totals have increased by five from the 2015-2016 season, and he is averaging two more rebounds per game, while keeping his assists and steals on par with last seasons totals.
As a reward for Butler’s relentless leadership, coupled with his MVP worthy production, Butler will participate in his third consecutive NBA All-Star Game, this time, as a starter. Butler will share the floor at the opening tip with fellow Eastern Conference starters LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, and Giannis Antetokounmpo on February 19, in New Orleans, Louisiana.